One in three Australian women will have an abortion at some point in their life. And polling consistently shows that the vast majority of Australians — around 80 per cent — believe in a woman’s right to choose that option.
Yet there are still several barriers that make this safe, common medical procedure difficult to access for tens of thousands of women.
To start with, Australian abortion laws are determined at a state level. This means that how and when a woman can lawfully obtain an abortion varies around the country. For examples, while most states have decriminalised abortion, in New South Wales it remains a criminal offence.
The availability and cost of abortion services also varies hugely, forcing some women to travel long-distances — even interstate — to receive necessary care.
Here’s what you need to know about abortion in Australia.
Types of abortion: medical vs surgical.
Women typically have two options for abortion, depending on the gestation of the pregnancy.
Medical abortion is available to women within the first nine weeks, i.e. less than 63 days from the first day of their last period. It involves taking two prescribed medications over two days – mifepristone (RU486) and misoprostol – in order to end the pregnancy. Medical abortion is available via private clinics, plus some GPs and public health services, and is successful in 93-98% of cases.